Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Rolling for Recovery

Do you roll? I know I think about it, I say I'm going to, and then, well, let's just say my roller spends more time as a sword in the playroom than as a recovery device. I should do it, and I'm trying to make it more of a regular habit. 

If you're new to foam rolling, there are some key concepts to keep you safe and make the rolling most effective for your recovery. 

First, what is it for and why do we do it? Not to get too nerdy on you, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release. Fancy sounding, but it's basically targeting the tissue that weaves through and around your muscles and bones. It's the same concept as massage therapy, but you are using these tools (roller, ball, stick, etc.) so you can do it yourself. Studies show that this can help after workouts to reduce soreness, increase flexibility, and decrease recovery time. Less known, though, is that this is also great as a warmup/pre-workout routine to increase bloodflow to the muscles. 

Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Roll and move around each area for 15-60 seconds, keeping your tool moving slowly and not stopping in any one place.

2. Never roll over joints, like your shoulder and knee. Do your lower leg, then move to the upper leg, skipping the knee completely, for example. 

3. Rolling is great for soreness. Rolling is NOT great for injured areas. If you have an injury, like a stabbing pain or a significant strain, don't roll on that area. Wait for some healing to happen, then you can add rolling back into your routine for injury prevention and health in that area. (By the way, the same applies to stretching--don't over stretch an injury; more is not better).
4. Start with short sessions, then increase as your body adapts. If you are really tight, it's going to hurt. The more you work through the tightness, the longer you will be able to roll. I admit, when I roll my calves I still cannot put all my weight on the roller and can't go for long. It's definitely a work in progress.

5. Do both sides! Maybe you have a nagging injury that comes back if you don't take good care of yourself (ahem, my knees...). Even though your right side may be your achy side, don't neglect the left. I've learned the hard way that imbalances often lead to new injuries. 

Five tips is a nice round number, so we'll leave it at that for now! I've been toying around with making some videos. Maybe an instructional foam rolling video needs to happen! 

What other questions do you have? 

A note about my certification: I was certified by the company "Trigger Point" for group fitness foam rolling techniques. They have now merged training with the "Rock Tape" company. I definitely want to continue exploring this area!

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